September 27, 2021

Newyddion Cymru Ar-Lein : Wales News Online

Newyddion Lleol a Chenedlaethol Cymru – Local and National News for Wales

£1 million chapel conversion ‘a step closer’

LISTED building consent to turn Bethel Chapel, Penclawdd, Gower, into five houses has been recommended by Swansea Council’s place-making team for approval subject to conditions.

But the decision is to be taken by Welsh Government heritage body Cadw.

The application by Bristol-based developer Brownfield Green also proposes to refurbish the chapel’s adjacent former manse.

The Bethel congregation is still going strong but now uses a revamped Sunday school building by the chapel for meetings and worship.

It took the decision to sell the grade two-listed chapel to Brownfield Green due to its track record in similar conversion projects.

“It’s a lovely building,” said Brownfield Green director Alex Fawcett.

“But it’s taken us a while to get the right solution.”

Brownfield Green has a planning application being considered by the council for the main work of the conversion project, as well as the listed building consent application.

There are objections to the plans, with concerns raised about access, parking and loss of privacy.

The scheme originally had five parking spaces for the five homes but this has now increased to 10 spaces.

Mr Fawcett said: “I think we have overcome most of the concerns.”

He also said the wider community was supportive of the proposal.

A chapel at the site, off Bethel Lane, dates from 1816. The current building was constructed in 1908.

It copied the design of a chapel in Maesteg, which cockle gatherers in Penclawdd apparently liked and wanted in their village.

A report by the council’s place-making team said the old manse was possibly once a wing of Bethel House, which was built for philanthropist and Methodism supporter Lady Diana Barnham, although it has been modernised since.

The place-making report said the changes proposed to the exterior of the chapel were minor, while those to the interior were significant.

It added: “Overall whilst the nature of the internal space has changed, this work is considered to preserve the building overall, secure the long-term future and therefore is supported.”

It said heating for the five homes would have to be electric to avoid a series of gas vents piercing the exterior. Soil pipes, it added, would also have to be internal.

The report added: “It is for the case officer to assess any neighbour amenity issues.”

Natural Resources Wales has not objected to the application but said a European protected species licence was required because bats were present at the chapel.

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